Friday, 24 June 2016 13:59

Cavs Win: Is the NBA Rigged?

By Damian Fantauzzi | Sports
LeBron James proved his worth this past Sunday, by helping Cleveland win its first NBA title, ever. King James picked up his third MVP award, he led all Finals players in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, he’s the first player in any series to accomplish such a feat. My championship game MVP was Kyrie Irving, he was Mr. Clutch throughout the night, when it was all tied at 89 each, he hit a big 3 pointer with 50 plus seconds left. The Warriors seemed to panic and squandered the next possession when Stephen Curry threw up a Hail Mary from about 27 feet. The Cavs got the ball into James’ hands. He was fouled and made 1 of two shots with 6.7 seconds to go to ice the Cavs’ first NBA championship. My thoughts on game 7 - it was in the style of typical NBA play, very physical with plenty of lead changes, and many one-on-one street-type plays that dominate the professional league. If you like that type of game, you got your money’s worth - a great game! A situation that became a firestorm from game 6: Stephen Curry was so upset about making his sixth foul he threw his mouth guard into the crowd and had to be restrained from the referee. Then Curry’s wife and mom launched the conspiracy theory that the playoffs are rigged. This is not a new idea. For years there has been talk about NBA post-season play being fixed. Unfortunately, it’s big business before sport, and this kind of rumor will develop. Now that the champs have been crowned, let’s talk about that theory. Not every call on Curry was correct, especially if you’re a fan of his. His fifth foul ­ on an apparent steal against Kyrie ­ looked particularly clean on the swipe. But Curry also got away with plenty of contact before going for the steal (and who doesn’t in the NBA). To compound the situation, Curry was not at the top of his defensive game throughout the series. I believe he was still favoring injuries to his knee and ankle from about a month ago, I also feel he was trying to over compensate for his lack of quickness with the overuse of his hands while on defense. Let’s face it, calls are just that: calls. In any NBA game some infractions are missed and others might be the wrong call, but that happens! I will admit that I’m not always a fan of the NBA style of play, I guess because I coached at the high school and college levels, one could say that I’m more of a purest about the game of basketball. Compound that with the fact that players make ten times as much money as the coaches. The NBA has profited from the street-game and one-on-one playground scenarios. I feel that coaching, generally speaking, has a minimal effect on the NBA game, and I guess that’s why the players get exorbitant salaries, compared to their so-called mentor/coach. I just felt that Tyronn Lue, Cleveland’s head coach, seemed overwhelmed during the playoffs, almost out of place. Sorry NBA fans, but that’s the NBA history of coaching. Also, at the college level, it’s impossible for a coach, from outside the system, to come in at mid-stream to take over the team, a common occurrence in the NBA. Back to business – the NBA is big business, so it would make the best business sense for the league’s big markets to thrive during the playoffs with the series extended to seven games. Yet, the Spurs have won five championships over the past two decades under coach Gregg Popovich, an NBA coach who has been allowed to do just that, coach. San Antonio is among the NBA’s smallest media markets. There has not been any evidence of rigging in favor of the Spurs. On the other hand, according to “Everyday Money/Sports” in an article by Brad Tuttle, the conspiracy-minded are quick to point out, the NBA and ABC‹the network with broadcast rights to the Finals‹stand to make big money because the series didn’t end in only five games. Just how much money? Well, last year, “AdAge” cited data from “ispot.tv” indicating that ABC pulled in $223.9 million in advertising revenues over the course of last year’s NBA Finals matchup, which again featured Cavaliers versus the Warriors. That series only lasted six games. But A Game 7 is typically a ratings and moneymaking bonanza. AdAge estimated that had there been a Game 7 last year, it would have likely drawn an audience of 32 million viewers and a 21.2 household rating. As for the advertising revenues, “A seventh game likely would have tossed another $45 million on the pile,” AdAge reported. So, if the 2016 NBA Finals had ended with a Game 5 victory by the Warriors, ABC would have missed out on the ad revenues of games 6 and 7. In that same editorial Tuttle mentions that Tim Donaghy, a disgraced former NBA referee who was pushed out of the league after a scandal involving his gambling on games, told Sports Illustrated last week that he thought the NBA decided to suspend the Warriors’ Draymond Green for the Finals’ Game 5 in order to ensure more games would be played. “It gives Cleveland a better chance of prolonging the series,” Donaghy said of Green, the Warriors’ best defender. Donaghy also said that in his experience, referees always seemed to favor teams that were losing in a playoff series, in order to give them the best chance of prolonging it. “It was always a situation where the team down in the series was going to benefit from those calls,” he said. Do you think that there might be some “sour grapes” here? There is no proof whatsoever that anyone has rigged anything. But plenty of Warriors’ fans, as well as the conspiracy theory-minded general public, are quick to note that the Warriors had dominated before Green’s suspension. They were up 3-1 in the series and neither Curry nor his ‘Splash Brothers’ teammate Klay Thompson had even been playing up to their potential. All the Warriors needed was to win one more game to take the championship. Then Green was suspended, and the Warriors lost Game 5 at home. Warriors’ starting center Andrew Bogut was hurt in that same game and was out for the series, making it easier for the Cavaliers to triumph in Game 6 and force a Game 7. So – are NBA playoff games actually fixed? If so, then the credibility of the league is down the drain, which would be to the demise of the league. All of the big money makers, players included, would suffer greatly, along with the NBA’s popularity. The money previously mentioned does not include any other money made based on the NBA Finals going beyond five games. The arenas hosting the games obviously benefit when there are more games, and down the line. While there’s no real evidence that the NBA Finals are rigged, it’s quite clear that a lot of people would be getting richer if they were. But, even though I have had suspicions, I think there are too many people who would be in the threat of losing their livelihood by cheating. So, ultimately, I doubt that this conspiracy theory of NBA fixed playoffs has any merit. There is just too much to lose by too many people!
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